Vikings remove some green in Couch Tournament |

Vikings remove some green in Couch Tournament

Four mats, nine teams, 126 wrestlers and 280 potential matches in less than nine hours made for an exciting Saturday at South Tahoe High School as the Vikings hosted the 27th annual Randy Couch Wrestling Tournament.

Though the Vikes finished eighth out of the nine-team field, a change from an individual competition to a dual team format assured a green South Tahoe team at least four matches.

“We’re real happy with how (the tournament) went,” said Vikings coach Tom Barnes, who is in his third season with the team. The event is held in memorial of former South Tahoe wrestler Randy Couch, who died in a 1980 car accident. “We got four matches in for our wrestlers. That’s a lot of contacts. It was a great day for the team and I think it was a good day for everybody that came here.”

The all-day event attracted teams from as far away as Modesto (Beyer) and Walnut Creek (Las Lomas) and represented South Tahoe’s only home tournament of the year. Galena posted a perfect 4-0 mark to capture the overall title, followed by Nevada squads Lowry, McQueen, Hug and Wooster rounding out the top five. Beyer, Las Lomas and Carson City ended up sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively.

“We went up against some of the best teams in Nevada and some some very talented, well-schooled wrestlers,” said Barnes, whose squad tallied an 0-4 record against Galena (12-72), Beyer (12-70), McQueen (9-66) and Las Lomas (12-56). “It’s a tutorial and learning experience for our team on many levels.”

Despite the difficult day, the Vikings scored four individual victories and three forfeit wins. South Tahoe’s Rook Naccarato picked up the team’s first match victory in the second round, topping Beyer’s Peter Markanian with a third-period pin. Five matches later, Viking Matt McGuffin followed with a victory over Beyer’s Dustin Bolasky in the 160-pound weight class.

“Most of the guys on this team are freshmen and sophomores going up against juniors and seniors,” said McGuffin, who was leading on points prior to his second-period pin. “That makes it tough, but at the same time it helps us get better.”

“It was some pretty good competition against more experienced wrestling schools,” said Naccarato, a junior who competed Saturday at the 130-pound weight class. “We’ll be able to really compete with them in a few years. But right now, we’re still pretty young.”

South Tahoe’s Jordan Breisacher (140 pounds) and Brad Ross (119) grabbed the team’s final wins, both nailing down Las Lomas wrestlers for pins in the Vikings’ last dual of the day.

The meet attracted a modest crowd and gave parents and Viking boosters an opportunity to see South Tahoe wrestlers in more than 50 head-to-head matches.

“It’s good to have your friends and family there, but at the same time it also puts more pressure on you,” Naccarato said.

The new dual format all but guaranteed Barnes a hectic and long day. He arrived at the South Tahoe gym at 5 a.m. and watched wrestlers roll up the last mat shortly before 6 p.m. Weigh-ins began at 7 a.m. and grapplers hit the mats at 9 a.m. for the first face-offs of the day. Despite the grueling morning, afternoon and early evening, Barnes had a number of opposing coaches and wrestlers congratulate him on a great tournament by day’s end.

“It’s a very positive visitor experience for the schools that come to the tournament,” said Barnes, who will take his troops to Reed for a Wednesday dual meet. “These kids are youthful ambassadors for this town and this school.”

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